Lead With the Heart of Christ

By Father Joseph M. Mele

Part 24 of a weekly series

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In the diocese that is home to the City of Champions, creative approaches to ministry and the joy of living the Gospel now excite Catholics of all ages. They are satisfying the natural spiritual needs of parishioners. But they are also fruitfully using their natural gifts to transform their neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and especially the agencies that serve the poor and disenfranchised in their midst.

Behind this “new Pentecost” in the Church of Pittsburgh is Bishop David Zubik’s boldest initiative — On Mission for The Church Alive! The focus is on discipleship. Fundamental to pastoral leadership is the ability of leaders to know how to inspire God’s people to learn Jesus, to love Jesus and to live Jesus by making disciples for Jesus.

Nearly four years ago, Bishop Zubik established the Secretariat for Leadership Development. The new secretariat was charged with discovering what is required of us in order to better serve and advocate for current and future pastoral leaders so they become the best they can be.

The basic idea is to build on the natural talents and gifts of clergy and laity together to grow The Church Alive! We want disciple-leaders who can lead with the heart of Christ. We need clergy and lay leaders who totally trust in the Lord but are also attentive to particulars and administration.

I don’t want to exhaust you with a long list, but just to give you the basics our Secretariat for Leadership Development includes the diocesan Departments for Diaconate Post-Ordination Formation, Priesthood Post-Ordination Formation, Lay Ministries, and Parish Advisory Councils.

Then there is our Department for Youth and Young Adult Ministry that encompasses Catholic youth ministry, Scouting, diocesan events and programming for young people, Catholic Youth Ministry sports, campus ministry and vibrant young adult ministry.

We are committed to helping pastors and their staffs motivate Catholics to live out their vocation, to strive for holiness and be disciples in every situation they face in the pilgrimage of life.

We are also working on providing coaching and consulting services to parishes to help them form leadership teams that know how to assess priorities and identify the right people to achieve them. This will be most important as we move into adopting new models of governance.

Two other services we are ready to provide are what we call “Community of Practice” and “Purposeful Partnerships.” This is where we pull together leaders who share a concern or passion and learn to lead better collectively. They will meet together regularly with experts in the spiritual life as well as the business, professional and academic sectors who can assist them in getting things accomplished faithfully.

One of our major contributions will be unveiled shortly. Our staff has designed a comprehensive recruitment strategy to identify and vet, train and commission young church leaders and create the structures that will enable them to work within the church as their primary work.

The potential for leadership is everywhere. Because of On Mission for The Church Alive! every parish, every institution of the Church of Pittsburgh has begun to evangelize for humble but effective leadership.

Father Mele is vicar for leadership development.

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